I received a contact form one day from Christine asking if we had any running clothes in our store. She told me that she was going to run a marathon in honor of a dog she has lost to cancer. As our conversation via email grew, I learned more and more of her Abbey and the hurt Christine still feels from her loss. I asked her to share her story with us, here it is:
Our yellow lab Abbey died on March 9, 2011. She was 12 1/2 when she passed of hermangeosarcoma.
Abbey, the light of the Risi family, lost to Hemangiosarcoma
It was just days before Christmas 2010 and Abbey was having trouble walking. She lost her appetite and wouldn’t eat. I brought her to our vet and they determined that she had a bleeding tumor on her spleen. They told me that if we had waited much longer she would have died. They immediately performed surgery. We spent Christmas Eve, Day and week sleeping on the floor of our vet hospital. My husband and I took turns so she was always with family. We did a lot of praying and finally took her home just before New Years Eve. We were optimistic that the tumor was benign and continued to pray until we received the bad news a few days later. It was cancerous and, since the tumor was bleeding, it had spread. At that point we were referred to an elevated vet care facility that could handle her chemo treatment. While Abbey was 12 1/2, she was in good shape and had the will to live. The specialized vet thought she was in good shape to take the chemo. She thought we might be able to get another 8 months of time with her. We decided to do whatever we could to save her life. If we had to remortgage the house, my husband and I would have done it. I would have given years off my own life for our girl.
January, February and early March were very hard. She has some rough days after treatment. In February they determined the the introvenous chemo wasn’t working and so she went to an oral medication, which she tolerated better, but I’m not convinced it was as effective. All our energy was dedicated to Abbey’s care. The entire family cared about nothing else but her. My three children would come home from school and sit with her to do their homework. Someone was always with her. I stayed with her all day while the kids were at school.
While she only lasted 3 more months, and we spent thousands of dollars, we have no regrets. I never wanted to look back and say “we should have, we could have…” After all, Abbey was always there for us. She was the one that sat next to the kids when they came home from the hospital. She was the one that let them pull her ears and hair and kiss all over her. She was the one who let them dress her up in princess clothes and march around the house. She was the one that sat next to me through some very difficult times. She was the one that sat next to my husband after his cancer surgery. We were committed to be there until the end. She never let us down and we would never let her down. There are so many wonderful stories about Abbey that I could write a book.
The day we had to bring her in for an exam, the vet told us the cancer was throughout her body and we needed to consider euthanasia. She already had one seizure that morning. I couldn’t even breathe. We decided to take her home so the kids could see her after school. She was on the carpet in the living room and everyone sat with. her. My husband and I could tell she was starting to be uncomfortable. We told the kids we were going to bring her to the hospital to be monitored, when in fact we knew we had to put her down.
When we got there I begged the vet for anything he could do. ANYTHING at any price. He was well aware through Abbey’s 12 1/2 years that money was never a consideration when it came to her care. We would do anything for her. She was our first born. He said her body just couldn’t do it anymore. I prayed over her as the vet got the syringe ready. I could not believe the pain in my heart. I thought I was having a heart attack. I prayed every prayer I ever knew. Abbey looked at me and licked me with a very dry lick and then put her head down. It was over in seconds. My husband had to practically carry me out. I was hyperventilating. We were both hysterical. It was the worst night of our lives. I had lost aunts, uncles, parents, but it was much worse losing Abbey. She was part of our core family. She was the nucleus of the family.
Abbey, the yellow lab
After she died, it was like a part of our neighborhood died. She had been there since the neighborhood was built. The community suffered a loss. We received more cards and gifts at her passing then we did with any human family member. My neighbors took a collection of $350 and asked us to plant a tree in our front yard in her honor. She just touched so many lives.
It has been just over a year now. I just took her food and water bowl out of the kitchen last month. Along with her toys, they are now all in my bedroom closet. And, when I get upset, I just go and sit in there and talk to her. Her smell is still on her collar.
I ran the Shamrock Marathon for her last month because I needed something to help me. I was suffering with severe depression. I didn’t have my best friend to talk to all day. I was alone. I started training, knowing that the intense training would take place around the time she had died a year earlier. I thought it would help me through those days, but it didn’t. I just ran and thought of her.
But, I know she was with me during the race. I had her dog tags in my pocket. I really felt like giving up the day of the marathon. I was having a bad run, but I kept going for her. My husband and kids saw me at mile 13 and I told them I couldn’t do it. They all yelled that I had to do it for Abbey. And I did.
I know she is my guardian angel. I know she will never leave me. She is the warm sun that makes me smile. She is the gentle breeze when I am hot. I just know she would never leave me. I still pray to her all the time and every night at dinner my whole family says a special prayer for our girl.
We have pictures all over the house. My kids make pictures in school of her and they are hung next to my bed. She will forever be a part of who we are.
No, we don’t have another dog. The kids want one. Their pain eased quicker than mine. The pain of losing her was so deep that I don’t think I could live through it again. She was one of a kind. God must have needed another angel.
I hope your organization can help these beautiful animals. They need us to be advocates for them. God bless you.